Emio Greco

Dance review: In ‘Rocco’ the knockout comes at the end

Emio Greco and Pieter Scholten's US premiere of a boxing-based dance at White Bird takes some time to warm up

The dancers in the ring of "Rocco"/ Laurent Ziegler

The dancers in the ring of “Rocco”/ Laurent Ziegler

Emio Greco and Pieter Scholten have erected a boxing ring on stage at the Newmark Theatre for their US premiere of Rocco, which continues through Saturday night. A lucky chunk of the audience can sit ringside, close enough to catch a spray of sweat or a concession thrown from a usherette tray during the mock intermission. Greco established himself as an uncommonly energetic dancer by the early 90s, attracting the attention of Scholten when he attended one of the choreographer’s workshops in 1995. Greco didn’t believe he could be a choreographer, but soon after he and Scholten began collaborating, they produced not just groundbreaking performances but a manifesto of seven commandments of dance and the body.

Rocco is their newest collaboration, continuing their tradition of experimental, interdisciplinary, highly physical, high-concept works, cut throughout with slapstick humor. Inspired by the 1960 Visconti movie Rocco and His Brothers, the boxing device comes from Rocco’s ambitions and fraught career as a boxer in the film. (The shades of Stallone in his name certainly help with the boxing associations for those of us more familiar with Hollywood than ’60’s Italian cinema.) Rocco and His Brothers also lends the performance its fraternal tension, its themes of pitting one’s body against one’s station, and a heavy influence over the modish soundtrack of the second act of the piece.

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